Cairo International Airport history started in the fourties of the last century when the American Bayn Field air-force base was established five kilometers far from Almaza Airport to serve the Alliance during the Second World War. The American forces left the base by the end of the war.
In 1945, the Civil Aviation Authority took over the base and allocated it to the International Civil Aviation. The Airport was called "King Farouk 1st Airport". In the meantime, Almaza Airport was dedicated to the domestic flights.
It is worth mentioning that the Air Traffic Movement during that period, particularly in 1946, was 200.000 passengers a year. The peak hour capacity of the Airport reached 200 passengers per hour.
In 1955, some studies were done to build a new terminal with a higher capacity; the location of the new terminal was chosen between the two runways, east of Cairo. The works of construction started in 1957 and has been inaugurated on 18th of March 1963.
In 1963, Cairo International Airport replaced the old Heliopolis Airport located at the Hike-Step area in the East of Cairo. It consisted of arrival and departure halls, a transit hall and two runways with a capacity of five million passengers a year.
As air transport rates went up to 55 % in the seventies, a second hall was constructed in 1977-79 and a third added in 1980.
In the Eighties, air transport rates increased again and a second terminal became a necessity. Terminal Building 2 with its two arrival and departure halls, a transit hall and a runway, was constructed to serve 3.5 million passengers per year.
With the increase in Air Traffic Movement and the demand for international service standards, there was a need for developing the airport's facilities . As a result, Cairo Airport Company started a major renovation and development plan on the transit hall in Terminal 1. It has been finished by the end of 2003 with a cost of US $ 12, 000,000. The consultant designer company for the project is ECG "Engineering Consultants Groups" S.A. Cairo, Egypt.
The building consists of a ground floor, first floor and a mezzanine. The scope of work has been divided into three phases. The 1st phase was the renovation of the ground floor and has been completed in March 2002 and during the implementation of this work the airport processed normal operations. The ground floor contains the main access doors, bar, cafeteria, main duty free shops, boutiques, and transit/ transfer facilities.
The second phase, started during June 2003, as a development of the upper floor, which includes lounges, cafes and the car parking area. First and business class lounges will be located in the mezzanine floor. For economical class, travelers will pay for lounges, each lounge reveals a different theme; Italian, British, American, French and Arabic. In addition, there will be luxurious VIP lounge to suit all tastes.
The third phase, that was completed by the end of 2003, includes the completion of a 1960's cafe overlooking the runway as well as duty free shops.
There are other facilities in the airport as: both international and national telephone services, screens and monitors with detailed flight information, telephones for passenger's inquiries using IVR, banking facilities, rent cars companies, information desks, post office, pharmacy, clinic, disabled traveler facilities, baggage trolleys, and porters are also available.
The development plan takes into consideration the huge commercial opportunities that serve the airports today. As airports are commercial projects whose performance should always be geared towards increasing revenues, international studies show that air transport fees represent only 40% of airport revenues, a percentage that is expected to shrink to 20% in 10 years. Meanwhile commercial operations will provide 80 % of the airport revenues. One of the ways to increase the airport revenue is planting flowers on a hundred feddans of its lands, as the airport has made arrangements to export these flowers to various European countries.
The Airport faces continuous developments as enlarging the capacity of the transit hall from 1200 to 4500 passengers per hour, and a new parking area with the capacity of 800 vehicles has been constructed at a cost of 25 million pounds.
Amongst the new services, a new VIP Arrival and Departure Hall, has been constructed outside the airport with a capacity of 180-200 passengers per hour. The new hall mainly serves the first class passengers and businessmen who want to pay more but to have rest in luxurious lounges while their papers and luggage are being checked.
Terminal 3, which is allocated for domestic flights, has been upgraded into an international hall. There is also a multi-story underground garage had been constructed to serve those who need long-time parking .
To avoid traffic jams in Al-Orouba st., which is the main road connects the airport with downtown, there is a new road provides an alternative route during peak times. This new route improves traffic congestion along the airports main access routes.
There are high expectations that the renovations will help the 40-years old hub to keep up with the increased air traffic coming up into Egypt, as well as the changes in modern aviation that have taken place since the airport was first built.